Northern Isles parliamentary representatives, Alistair Carmichael MP, Beatrice Wishart MSP and Liam McArthur MSP, have today met with Ofgem to raise growing concerns about delayed and refused energy connections in the isles. In the meeting the three highlighted a range of problems faced in trying to connect new build homes, both for individual builds and construction firms, and found that the problems described were far more serious in Scottish island communities than on the mainland UK.
Ofgem agreed to take away the examples given, with further casework details, and to update the isles representatives on their response in a further meeting later in August.
Speaking after the meeting, Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said:
“Vital new housing should not be left empty while energy suppliers refuse to connect them.
“It was useful to get round the virtual table and raise this issue with Ofgem representatives directly.
“Whether anything improves is now in Ofgem’s hands. We hope to meet again in three weeks to assess what progress has been made.”
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said:
“It was helpful to be able to set out to Ofgem the extent of the problems faced in getting meters installed in new build properties in Orkney and Shetland.
“Ofgem acknowledged the seriousness of the situation, which does appear to be more localised to island communities than previously thought. They have asked for more detail on specific cases and agreed to meet again later this month to discuss potential options.
“That is welcome, but given the impact this is having on commercial and private house building locally, the need to find a solution to this market failure could scarcely be more urgent.”
Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael said:
“I am glad that Ofgem were willing to talk and hear about the problems we are facing in the isles around delayed or denied connections for homes. These issues span businesses and individuals with new homes, from unreasonable delays to outright refusals to connect energy supply.
“We had thought that this was a universal issue but it appears that Scottish islands are in fact bearing the brunt of these connection problems. That cannot, however, be an excuse for inaction from the government or the regulator. We may not have the population of a city like London but if the market doesn’t work for the isles then the market does not work – period.
“I am looking forward to seeing what response Ofgem can make on these problems in the next few weeks before our next meeting. This cannot trundle on as winter approaches – change is needed now.”